Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Kirkin' o' the Tartan

Just got back from the dentist.

I like my dentist, but today he irritated me.

Its heroic enough to endure everything else.

The prolonged prick of the needle. The anesthetic swallowings. The endodontic excavation. The Salival suctioning. The tortuous Tools of the trade.

But then, in the middle of the procedure, his eager young hygienist proceeded to query him about how to do root canals, a procedure that, mercifully, was not being performed at the time. Accordingly, while the dental drill droned and whined, I had to eavesdrop on a conversation concerning how much of the tooth needs to be "filed", how deep into the root the canal needs to be "cored", and other such baroque contributions to the sadistic soundtrack of the dental surgery.

Anyway, not much I can do now but wait for the freezing to subside, and reflect on the non-holiday that seemed to be observed in Stoic solitude yesterday.

Bomber and I met at an ambiguously Celtic pub last night to mark the event of Rabbie Burns Day, which is akin to a national holiday (minus the holiday) for the Scottish diaspora around the world. It turns out that I missed the piping in of the haggis, but otherwise there was no acknowledgment that anything was being marked. At least not that we could observe. Not even a Caledonian soundtrack, whether it be "Road to the Isles" or "Mogwai Fear Satan". Or some greasy jazz-blues from Jack Bruce. Hell, why not even the Bay City Rollers, via whom I had been K-telled into submission by my sadistic sisters when I was a little kid.

We did observe the rather fetching sartorial regime of the servers, and Bomber brought along his unannotated bargain bin edition of Burns to read aloud from. But otherwise our commemorative observance commenced up in Bomber's office, where a bottle of Glenfiddich was skillfully sequestered in a storage cabinet.

The single malt also shepherded a swap between Bomber and I. Phil Kessel and Patrick Marleau were the principals of the deal, and I think we both went home satisfied with the transaction.

Finally, for the boys out there, mind you pay heed to Robbie's poetic prescience:

If ye gie a woman a' her will,
Gude faith! she'll soon o'er-gang ye'

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Movie Night on Metcalfe St.

Its long overdue.

Too cold to do anything else but sequester myself in the domestic den and, finally, bask in the Blu-Ray of the 42 incher.

Still sporting a Cheshire Grin (as well as some mysterious scratches on my arm), I headed out into cryogenic Centretown to pick up the necessities of life, including a few groceries and some interesting cinema.

There weren't many Blu-Rays on hand, but after a while I made some decisions.

Christopher Nolan's Inception. Might as well get a movie that can take advantage of the Blu-Ray brilliance.

Machete. Though I generally dislike Robert Rodriguez movies, this was the best trailer for a movie that did not exist in an otherwise sub-stellar Grindhouse. And it features Danny Trejo in what has to be his first top-billing role. Danny Trejo, the actor who played a guy named Trejo in Michael Mann's generally unappreciated Heat. While doing time at San Quentin for armed robbery, Danny Trejo won lightweight and welterweight boxing titles, and has since made a career of playing Hispanic badasses. If Sam Peckinpah hadn't drank himself to death in the early 80s, and had continued to make movies into the 90s, Danny Trejo would have become his Robert De Niro.

And finally, A Serious Man, the only Coen Bros. film that I have yet to see (except for True Grit), either on video or on the big screen. Although it doesn't feature the old timey acting ensemble of classic Coeniana, it appears to be their version of a Philip Roth novel.

Coen films are events for me, which is why I need to get to the moviehouse real soon to see True Grit. I can still remember where and when I saw a Coen film on the big screen:

Raising Arizona (London, ON 1987)

Miller's Crossing (Ottawa 1990)

Barton Fink (Ottawa 1991)

Fargo (Ottawa 1996)

The Big Lebowski (Vancouver 1998)

O Brother Where Art Thou? (Washington DC 2001)

The Man Who Wasn't There (Vancouver 2001)

The Ladykillers (Vancouver 2004) (not a happy experience, though better than the Ealing original with Alec Guiness and Peter Sellers).

Blood Simple, The Hudsucker Proxy and No Country for Old Men, sadly, were not big screened.

I do not care to remember where and when I saw Intolerable Cruelty.

The very best Coen films are temporal and cartographic markers in my life. No matter how many times I watch them, they relocate me in a specific time and place, and with specific people and discussions.

I can only hope that John Turturro gets old enough for them to make Old Fink.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

U Gellin'?

Its cold out. Really fucking cold.

But not as cold as it was one evening back in December 1989.

The fall of 1989 in Toronto was an interesting one.

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover caused a commotion at the Film Festival in September. After seeing it for the first time a few years later, it claimed a permanent position in the upper balcony of my personal film canon. Helen Mirren, Michael Gambon, Richard Bohringer, Tim Roth, Alan Howard, who long before voicing Sauron ended up being forced to eat his favourite book (Carlye's French Revolution)? Michael Nyman's sublime soundtrack. The last great film from Peter Greenaway before he became obsessed with esoterica and I could no longer follow, as hard as I tried.

In November, Cousine and I went down to what was then called the Skydome to see Jeff Beck during his Guitar Shop tour with the great Terry Bozzio behind the kit. At the time, I didn't know who this incredible drummer was yet. The drummer that started out as a kid playing "The Black Page" with the ingenious Frank Zappa. Nor did I know he was the driving force behind his vocalist wife in the mid-80s hair band "Missing Persons". Cousine and I appeared to be the only ones at the show who went to see Beck rather than the headliner Stevie Ray Vaughn. Nothing against the late Stevie Ray (playing on his last tour, as it turned out) but Beck had just emerged from his self-exile working on his classic cars in his cloistered castle in the English countryside. Back then he rarely toured. We freeway jammed downtown and back, with a few stops along the way.

After writing my exams in early December, I VIA railed down to Manotick to help Cousine move his mother's stuff to a new house in Brockville. I spent a few days at her old house, finishing off Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum which had just been translated into English. Although I haven't revisited it for over twenty years, I remember it being a remarkably entertaining satire of all that "Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" bullshit that has made hacks like Dan Brown filthy rich, and auteurs of pap like Ron Howard and Tom Hanks even filthier.

The day before the big move I went with Cousine to pick up the U-Haul, the biggest, baddest motherfucker they had. There was a lot of heaviness to be heaved. Washers, dryers, furniture -- everything. My other cousine was younger than us 20-yr-olds and for some reason couldn't contribute that much (was it the flu?), so we knew it was basically up to the two of us.

We parked the mega-UHaul in the driveway, and everything was pretty well ready to go in the morning. So we decided to take in a bit of the local scene. That meant jumping in Cousine's diesel-fueled Datsun and heading out to the "Crossroads", a nearby establishment at which adult
refreshment and adult entertainment conjoined to produce a burlesque buffet of Dionysian delights.

As usual, our intended slight diversion developed into a closing time decision to take the back roads back to Cousine's place.

The only problem with that plan was that it was one those precious -25/30 nights that are so particular to Eastern Ontario during the winter months. The journey home started out well, as we got off the beaten path and began to slide road our way back to Cousine's mother's heated house and warm beds.

Shortly however, the Odyssean nature of our wanderings would reveal itself. Cousine's Datsun was not a reliable ride at the best of times, let alone on a bone-crackingly cold night such as that. The first time the diesel gelled we had to wait about a half hour before the Datsun would start again. Then we could drive a mile or two before it stalled. Not wanting to attract any attention to ourselves as we snailed our way back home in the early hours of the morning, we repeated this ritual for the next 8 or so sleepless hours. Cousine was clad in a jean jacket, so we had to take turns wearing my winter coat as a blanket, sleep for a half hour, then dutifully wake up (assuming we slept at all) and drive a mile or two before the diesel gelled up again.

Coldest I've ever been in my life. At one point, Cousine told me, when it was his turn with the winter coat, he looked over at me. Seemingly asleep and without any means of warming myself, I was curled into a fetal position and shuddering uncontrollably. And after a few hours, the Labatt Blue anesthetic had worn off. Bad enough that the Datsun would only move periodically, but we had no regular source of heat, and significant portions of the Datsun's undercarriage were rusted out into gaping holes beneath us.

Around five minutes to 8 in the morning, we pulled into Cousine's mother's driveway.

At 8, it was time to start loading the mega-UHaul. Two full loads, there and back again down Highway 16 and the 401. Washers. Dryers. Mattresses. An entire house of domestic detail.

Its remarkable what you can do when you're 20 years old. I think we only broke one item.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Horton Hears a Who!

You were drafted second overall in the 2001 OHL Priority Draft.

Ahead of Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Corey Perry, all of whom are consistent contributors to my league-leading King George Highlanders.

While still playing in the OHL, your agent was Bobby Orr.

You were drafted third overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

You're married to the Playboy Coed of the Week for Week 5 of December 2004, who is also the spokesmodel for something called, and is also the great-niece of legendary Montreal Canadiens goalie Jacques Plante.

The Vancouver Highlanders drafted you third overall in the 2003 Perpetual Pool Entry Draft.

The King George Highlanders drafted you with their first pick in the DHL Formation Draft in the summer of 2007.

This summer, after your trade request was granted, you signed a three-year contract with the Boston Bruins, an original six franchise, worth an average of 4 million dollars per year.

You now have a no-trade clause in your contract.

On the whole, things are going pretty swell.

Yet, each night I place you in my lineup, Horton Hatches the Egg.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Gritty

Hope everyone is enjoying the turning of the New Year.

I spent most of the holiday season in a feverish flux, my body racked by internal incoherence.

An unstable condition, indeed.

Thanks brother-in-law-who is-always sick. I didn't know that I was getting a gift from you this Christmas.

Now, still dealing with a pneumoniac cough and entirely unable (or perhaps unwilling) to drive back to the city, I am continuing my convalescence at the Country Home.

I'm also feeling more than a little like Harry Knowles, and that ain't so cool news.

There were, and are, however, some quality unintended consequences to being able to do nothing but sleep and watch 50" TV in all its Goodness, Badness and Ugliness. At the latter end of the spectrum was watching a rather pasty and fleshy Steven Seagal hunting down cretinous crack ho's and cleaning up domestic disturbances in a New Orleans suburb. At the other pole, I got to see a good chunk of Sam Dunn's documentary on RUSH. Now that was cool news, and Good TV.

Somewhere in the middle, occupying the role of Angel Eyes, was True Grit. The 1969 adaptation is a movie that only a John Wayne cultist could love. Some terribly delivered dialogue, mostly from Wayne, a laughably miscast Glen Campbell, and a young Kim Darby whose next career highlight would be a role in Teen Wolf Too. Actually, the screenplay's dialogue seemed pretty interesting, but it needed superior actors. I have much higher hopes for the source material now that it has landed on the nearly spotless filmography of the Coen Bros.

Now playing in the background is Leon -- hey that's Michael Badalucco, part of the extended Coen troupe. I forgot he was Natalie Portman's father in that. Gary Oldman just shot him, which reminds me of another recent highlight. While I didn't like the film overall, The Book of Eli sported a Gary Oldman in mid-90s form.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll feel better enough to get a full day of work in, and watch another flick on the 50 incher before I head home on Saturday.

And David Lynch wisely turned down Return of the Jedi to make Dune. George Lucas v. Frank Herbert? That's not even a fair fight. Maybe someday Lynch will release the REAL director's cut.

Now that would be cool news.